Funder Dispatch – Fourth Quarter 2008

A View of Life in the Commons

To help you stay updated on our projects and relevant developments in the world of open science, Science Commons periodically sends out brief email dispatches to its funders and other stakeholders. We hope these dispatches, which will contain news summaries and links, give you more context for the work we’re doing and help foster a deeper understanding of the issues we address.

As always, we invite your feedback and comments. If you’d like to share your thoughts or get more information about anything you read, please feel free to contact us at

What has been achieved this quarter?

Earlier this month, we released our new draft Research Funder Addendum – a document to attach to grant agreements that states all research output should be made available under terms in accordance with our previous work with scholarly content, biological materials and data. This was part of a larger foundation outreach effort to involve members of the funder community on the draft  and design process as we work to further edit the Addendum. As part of this foundation outreach, Science Commons also released its first informational video, directed by Jesse Dylan, director of the Emmy award winning “Yes We Can” video from President Elect Obama’s campaign.

On the technical side, there are two major advances of note:  first, the release of the NeuroCommons distribution, and second a move to final call by the World Wide Web Consortium’s OWL working group on OWL2 – an extension of a standard Web Ontology Language.

What to keep an eye out for in the coming quarter ….

In early 2009, we will be moving forward with our Materials Transfer work in terms of implementations and various pilot projects.

Also, keep an eye out for advances in our Open Data work with the expected release of the CC0 Public Domain waiver, which will build upon our Open Access Data protocol, released last year in December 2008.

Project Update

Science Commons issued a statement in response to the European Commission’s green paper, “Copyright in the Knowledge Economy” as part of our policy work for our Scholar’s Copyright Project. The paper raises a number of questions regarding licensing schemes for scholarly content. To read the response in its entirety, visit <>

Early this December, we released our new industry-standard Research Funding Addendum to members of the funding community for their comments as we move forward in the design process. This Addendum brings together many of the standards, policy recommendations, best practices, and models of scientific collaboration identified by Science Commons and puts them into a form that can be implemented as part of any research grant agreement. We are at an early stage in this effort, and we are interested in your ideas and feedback and invite your participation.

Around this same time, we also announced the release of Science Commons’ first informational video. The video was directed by renowned director Jesse Dylan, the director of the Emmy- award winning “Yes We Can” Barack Obama campaign video with musical artist from the Black Eyed Peas. The video can also be seen on the front of and also on our Foundation Resource Page at

On the technical side, there are two major advances of note. First, we are happy to announce the first release of the NeuroCommons distribution, including data and ontology packages that allows for scalable data integration – similar to the distribution methodology of Open Source software. The NeuroCommons can now be installed locally and mirrored, can be forked enabling users to make their own version, or can be run off the version in the cloud for a low cost.

Second, the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) OWL Working Group also recently announced a move to “last call” for a set of documents on OWL 2 – an extension of the W3C’s OWL Web Ontology Language. These documents will likely become the core technical specifications and recommendations for OWL 2 – a Web Ontology Language that serves as a standard in the community, endorsed by the W3C. This is a tremendous accomplishment in the Ontology community, one that Science Commons’ Alan Ruttenberg played a critical role in orchestrating. The expected issue date for these recommendations will be shortly after the comment period closes on January 23.

Science Commons, on the road and on the Web

John Wilbanks – a “Game Changer” for science

SEED Magazine has identified John Wilbanks (VP of Science) as a “Game Changer” for science for his work as the head of Science Commons. The piece is part of their “Revolutionary Minds” series, where they profile a chosen few for their advances in a certain area. In the video and accompanying text, John describes the reasoning behind our work and why making the web work for science is important for the world of scientific research. To view the segment, visit <>

Open Innovation, iTunes University and Science Commons

Over the past few weeks, a number of online media components have been posted on Science Commons – from videos and features on Open Innovation over at the Kauffman Foundation’s Web site, to John Wilbanks‘ latest talk this past November in Tampa, Fla. as part of “iTunes University” and Digital Media in Health Care Leadership Symposium. Wilbanks is the Vice President of Science at Creative Commons.

Visit the Kauffman Foundation’s Web site for more information on the Science Commons project, as well as their recent feature, “Open Innovation: Rx for Improved Human Health” (<>). In that piece, Wilbanks lays out the underlying theory behind our Open Innovation work, its relationship to access, and its footing in network theory.

Also available, thanks to iTunes University, is one of Wilbanks’ latest talks from the Digital Media in Health Care Leadership Symposium. The event, cohosted by USF Health and Apple, Inc., was held this past November in Tampa, Fla., bringing together over 170 participants from academia and beyond to discuss new ways of incorporating emerging mobile technology and digital learning into health care and education. For more information, visit the conference’s Web site at <>. You can download Wilbanks’ talk at <>